We spoke to Gallery Director, Jack Willet from 1301 SW to talk about their presentation for Sydney Contemporary 2022.
The gallery is located in South Melbourne, can you elaborate on its location and why you chose to open here?
We spent some time looking for a location through the concluding haze of COVID-19 in the second half of 2021. The focus of our needs was a sizable freestanding space accessible to a wide variety of visitors, so it needed to be central. Additionally, we wanted to be in context, but with an air of starting something new. So with ACCA, Buxton Contemporary and the NGV a short stroll away, South Melbourne seemed like an ideal neighbourhood.
The George Street site offered a great deal of potential, with an abundance of natural light via the saw-tooth ceiling and two large spaces, one for a gallery and stock room and the other our office and viewing room. In the hands of architect Chris Connell, we have built something very special with a couple of key spatial decisions that both our artists and visitors are clearly engaged with.
What are some career highlights, or exhibition highlights in the gallery to date?
Well, we are only one show into a very exciting exhibition program. But since our first public outing at the Melbourne Art Fair in February, our artists have presented significant exhibitions in a number of key institutions. Some highlights include Philippe Parreno’s recent takeover of the Rotunda at Paris’ Bourse de Commerce, Ann Veronica Janssens installation also in Paris at the Panthéon, Mikala Dwyer’s significant commission for ACMI’s Light exhibition, and Alicia Frankovich’s major exhibition Atlas of Anti-Taxonomies in Christchurch. Not to mention the exceptional programming our sister galleries — Starkwhite in Auckland and 1301PE in Los Angeles — have been presenting in 2022.
What was your first exhibition, and why?
We opened with something that would set the trend for what is to come. An eeriness on the Plain is an exhibition I worked on with artist Jonny Niesche, presenting works that explore minimalist, abstract and conceptual tendencies in contemporary art and how they talk of a sense of eeriness and artistic monotheism. Featuring an array of exceptional artists from both here and abroad, An eeriness on the Plain presented new and recent works by Rebecca Baumann, Alexandra Bircken, Andy Boot, Mikala Dwyer, Lewis Fidock, Alicia Frankovich, Ann Veronica Janssens, Lucina Lane, Gerold Miller, David Ostrowski, Anselm Reyle, and Blair Thurman. The larger conceptual concerns of this exhibition will be a continuing motif of the gallery, along with our desire to create a meaningful contextualisation between works, artists, audiences and collections.
The contextualisation of the local and the international is at the core of 1301SW, offering an opportunity to build meaningful dialogues between the artists and artworks, something we believe both our larger audience and collector base will find deeply engaging. This is represented by a key group of artists we are working with being predominantly international, such as Ann Veronica Jassens, Philippe Parreno, Diana Thater, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Pae White, coupled with historic and contemporary artists from New Zealand and Australia, including: Billy Apple, Rebecca Baumann, Mikala Dwyer, Jonny Niesche and Gordon Walters.
Who are you bringing to Sydney Contemporary and why?
For the 2022 edition of Sydney Contemporary we are partnering with Auckland’s Starkwhite to show a group of significant works by internationally acclaimed artists working across both galleries, including: Billy Apple, Petra Cortright, Bill Henson, Gerold Miller, Jonny Niesche, Fiona Pardington, and more.
Our presentation will include Apple’s noteworthy piece AC / DC (Artist’s Cut / Dealer’s Cut) (1986), which will be the first Australian presentation of the esteemed artist since his passing in 2021. This work exemplifies Apple’s conceptual re-contextualisation, here crafting a multifaceted definition for the recognisable title, while making “divine proportions” or a “golden ratio” of the canvas for commercial division — a dotted line cut at the 61.8/38.2 mark, 38.2 percent being the dealers’ cut.
American artist Petra Cortright and Germany’s Gerold Miller will present pictorial works utilising distinct materials and techniques benefiting from contemporary technologies and precise craftmanship. Cortright’s recent works are indicative of her now renowned digital paintings, in which she fuses two schools of gestural painting: the layering and rapid brush strokes of the Abstract Expressionists with the soft blurring of the Impressionists. While Miller’s works explore the artist’s attempt to pinpoint where sculptural space ends and the painted image begins, utilising an aluminium base coated in glossy lacquer to present bold monochromatic tones.
Another notable dialogue within our booth will be the presentation of arguably Australia and New Zealand’s most acclaimed photographers, Bill Henson and Fiona Pardington. Sitting side-by-side, historically significant works will showcase the artists’ distinct engagements with atmosphere, allegory, and attraction.
All these works, along with others to be added, speak to some of the larger views which keep cropping up for us: context and dialogue, references to the historic and contemporary, being local and international. These are works of exceptional quality by a group of artists I greatly admire and want to share with our larger community.
Jonny Niesche, An eerieness on the Plain, Installation Image. Courtesy of 1301SW, Melbourne.Image by: André Piguet
Jonny Niesche, An eerieness on the Plain, Installation Image. Image by: André Piguet.
External Image of 1301SW. Courtesy of 1301SW, Melbourne.
Billy Apple, Rainbow Triptych, 1965, screenprint on paper, 74 x 132 cm. Courtesy of the artist and 1301 SW, Melbourne.